Scientific Name(S): Aloysia triphylla (L'Her.) Britt. Formerly described as A. citriodora (Cav.) Ort., Verbena citriodora Cav., V. triphylla, Lippia citriodora (Ort.) HBK Family: Verbenaceae
Common Name(S): Lemon verbena, louisa
Lemon Verbena is an herb that is actually a small tree instead of a flowering plant. It has been known to grow up to 15 feet during the summer months during which time its small flowers (which are pale lavender in color) are clustered on the tips of its branches amid the leaves. The light green leaves bears oil leaving the leaf surface to be sticky to the touch. This oil also produces a lemony fragrance on its own and is also released in abundance when the leaves are stroked or brushed.
Lemon Verbena has been traced back to South America and in 1784 was introduced to England where it became quite popular in the gardens, climate permitting. This small tree can also be seen throughout the different countries in Europe.
History: Lemon verbena has been used as a medicinal plant for centuries, having been touted for use as an antispasmodic, antipyretic, carminative, sedative and stomachic. The leaves and flowering tops are used in teas and as beverage flavors. Its fragrance is used in perfumery. Although the plant is grown as an ornamental, it requires shelter during cold periods.
Uses of Lemon Verbena
Lemon verbena is used in teas, flavorings, fragrances, antispasmodics, carminatives, sedatives and stomachics.
Lemon verbena infused oil makes a wonderful massage oil . It blends well with lavender and rosemary. Use it in creams and lotions. A lemon verbena compress reduces puffiness around the eyes. A floral vinegar softens and freshens the skin. You can harvest sprigs all summer. For your main harvest though, cut back the plant halfway in midsummer and again before taking it in.
Side Effects of Lemon Verbena
Some individuals may experience contact hypersensitivity.
Toxicology: Lemon verbena generally is recognized as safe for human consumption and for use as a flavor in alcoholic beverages. Contact hypersensitivity has been associated with members of the related Verbena genus.
Summary: Lemon verbena is a fragrant plant that finds use in the preparation of teas. Extracts of the plant are used in fragrances and to flavor beverages. No significant toxicity has been associated with the plant.
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